Trade gap widens as exports drop to its lowest in almost two years

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The Philippines’ trade deficit expanded in April as imports grew by double-digits while exports contracted for the fourth straight month, the Philippine Statistics Authority reported this morning.

Exports declined 8.5% to $5.11 billion in April, lower than the 6.8% contraction posted in March and a far cry from the 30.4% growth in April 2017. This was the worst turnout since the 10.9% decline logged in July 2016.

The latest merchandise export figure brought year-to-date receipts to $20.955 billion, down 6.2% from $22.344 billion in the same four months last year.

The country’s balance of trade in goods widened to a $3.615 billion deficit in April from $1.554 billion a year ago as imports grew by double-digits. The country’s import bill increased 22.2% to $8.729 billion during the month, faster than the 0.3% seen in March and 4% in April 2017.

So far, 2018 saw a 10.5% merchandise import growth.

Hong Kong is the Philippines’ top export market in April with a 16.4% market share at $837.76 million followed by the United States’ 15.4% ($789.54 million) and Japan’s 13.8% ($704.47 million) market shares.

Meanwhile, China was the country’s top source of imports with a 20.1% share in April ($1.75 billion) followed by the 11% market shares of South Korea ($958.48 million) and Japan ($958.19 million). — Jochebed B. Gonzales